“Life’s But A Walking Shadow” Audition Monologues for Macbeth

Written by Rosalind Helsinger

December 29, 2019

Looking for that perfect monologue to nail your audition for the Scottish play? Look no further. Below are options for every character in the play full of murder, intrigue, power, and witchcraft. Dive in and brush up your Shakespeare!

Auditioning for Macbeth:

Claudius– Hamlet.

Polonius has just told Claudius that Hamlet is on his way to visit Gertrude. After having seen Hamlet’s play performed, the shaken Claudius begins to suffer guilt for the murder of his brother, King Hamlet. However, though he directs his speech to heaven, he cannot pray, and his speech about the effort to pray and be remorseful rather than the actual and heartful action of being remorseful. Additionally, he fights to kneel within his speech, suggesting that he has never prayed or is reluctant to.

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Richard II– Richard II

King Richard has just received tidings of calamity from Sir Stephen Scroop. A general rebellion is underway against the King. Even his most loyal nobles have either turned sides or have been killed by the rebels. Richard reflects in the impending doom.

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Auditioning for Lady Macbeth:

Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester – Henry VI, Part II

Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, and rival to the newly crowned Queen Margaret, chastises her husband for his lack of ambition. As Lord Protector to the King, he stands in line to the crown. She is an overachiever who pushes herself and her husband toward success.

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Queen Margaret – Richard III

Queen Margaret, the widow of Henry VI is now reduced to a witch-like hag, encounters her rival Queen Elizabeth, widow of the slain King Edward IV. Although enemies, both are united in their hatred of Richard III, who has just killed Elizabeth’s two young sons in the Tower of London, Margaret mocks Elizabeth.

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Auditioning for Duncan:

Henry V – King Henry V

The restless King Harry, in disguise, roams about the camp unrecognized. He has just spoken to a group of gruff soldiers who tell him that all responsibility hangs upon the king. Here, an honest and likable king confesses his doubts to the audience. He prays for strength for his soldiers, and forgiveness for his father’s wrongdoings in killing King Richard, and claiming the crown for his

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King of France – All’s Well That Ends Well

Bertram has come to Paris to replace his father as attendant to the King of France. Upon their first meeting, the King muses over the history he had with Bertram’s father, remembering their times as soldiers and how humble he was. The King does not believe the same remarkable traits have found their way through the family tree to Bertram.

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Auditioning for MacDuff:

Coriolanus – Coriolanus

Banished from Rome, Coriolanus seeks refuge in the city of his enemy Aufidius, the Volsican commander. Coriolanus reflects on this ironic reversal of fortune. This is really his first contemplative moment in the play, and he resigns to take what he can from this hand dealt to him.

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Mark Antony – Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar has just been slain by the conspirators. Mark Antony feigns support of their action with bloody handshakes. But once alone, he discloses his real feelings and wrath towards the murder. The speech is as much as moving prayer as it is a curse. There is a raw and private grief in this speech, and Antony will later take his revenge upon the conspirators while speaking at Caesar’s burial.

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Auditioning for Lady McDuff:

Desdemona – Othello

Desdemona, a pure and faithful woman, is married to Othello, an accomplished and honorable black general in the Venetian army. Iago, Othello’s trusted ensign, is jealous that Othello has promoted young Cassio, not Iago, into a higher office, and he vows to undo Othello. He does this by convincing Othello that Desdemona has cheated on him with Cassio. Desdemona, unaware of Iago’s deceit, asks Iago how she should convince Othello that she is faithful. She begs him to speak with her husband, distraught that her marriage is faltering.

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Lady Kate Percy – Henry IV, Part II

Lady Percy, Hotspur’s widow, pleads with her father-in-law, the Earl of Northumberland, to desert the rebel cause and cease fighting the King.

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Auditioning for Witches/ Hecate/ Apparitions:

Joan la Pucelle – Henry VI, Part I

The French are losing the fight to the English. Joan (Joan of Arc) desperately summons her powers of witchcraft to call forth avenging spirits. But they desert her. Her series of incantations make her appear more as a devil than a saint, even offering herself as a whore to her minions. After her monologue, she will be taken captive by the English and burned at the stake.

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Ariel – The Tempest

Ariel, Prospero’s spirit agent, is lowered onto the stage dressed as a winged harpy. They are invisible and speak here to Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian to remind them of their crimes against Prospero and to frighten them into repentance. Ariel is a trickster, and is, here, vengeance manifested.

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Auditioning for Malcolm and Donalbain:

Young Clifford –Henry VI, Part II

A decisive battle has just taken place, resulting in heavy losses. John Clifford, a young follower of King Henry VI, enters to find the dead body of his father, Lord Clifford, lying on the stage. He was slain by Richard, Duke of York. Young Clifford enters in utter confusion but leaves with resolution. Though he enters as Young Clifford, he exits as Lord Clifford and carries a legacy upon his back.

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Prince Hal – Henry IV, Part II

London; King Henry’s chamber. King Henry IV has recently defeated Richard II and taken his throne. Henry is odds with Harry Percy, a former ally, and Richard’s heir, Edmund Mortimer. Henry’s also fed up with his son, Prince Hal, who is rash and irresponsible, drinking and partying with Sir John Falstaff. The Prince must answer his accusers and show his true self by becoming a leader, not only for himself, but also for his father. In this monologue, Hal promises his father he will slay Harry Percy on the battlefield (which he actually does later in the play). He is penitent and bold, pleading for forgiveness from his father.

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Auditioning for Banquo:

Horatio – Hamlet

In this monologue, Horatio explains to Marcellus and Bernardo why so many measures have been taken to strengthen the army of Denmark. More cannons have been made, more guards working tirelessly (including these two men), all because Denmark has just killed the old Norwegian King Fortinbras and gained all the territories. Now, the young Norweigan King wants to take back those lands that were taken away. They are visited by, what they assume is, the old King Hamlet’s ghost.

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Tullus Aufidius – Coriolanus

This monologue is made of a passion oath to a former enemy suddenly turned sworn friend. After Coriolanus is banished from Rome, his mortal enemy Tullus Aufidius is won over by Coriolanus’ request for death, and instead offers his hand on the battlefield. He praises Coriolanus’ strength, his skills as a warrior, and confesses to dreaming of him. Tullus Aufidius begs Coriolanus to join him and they’ll take on Rome together. The homoerotic subtext can easily be played up for a heartfelt monologue of attraction beyond the battlefield lines. 

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Auditioning for Fleance/ Boy/ Young Siward:

Henry V – Boy

France; Battle of Harfleur; a boy, servant to the three buffoons Nym, Bardolph, and Pistol, stops to address the audience. This is a moment of comic relief from the fighting.

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Prince Arthur – King John

John has usurped Arthur’s crown as the play opens. Arthur is the son of John’s eldest recently deceased brother. A defenseless boy. Arthur is supported by King Phillip of France (Arthur’s mother is the French Duchess of Brittany) as well as the Archduke of Austria, who go to war with England. Arthur is captured and taken to England in the custody of Hubert, who is instructed to kill him. However, Hubert grows fond of his prisoner and cannot bring himself to carry out his orders, instead resigning himself to blinding they boy.

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Auditioning for Lennox/ Angus:

Antony and Cleopatra

After a successful battle, Ventidius and Silius return with the dead body of Pacorus.  Silius encourages Ventidius for them to go back and finish off the rest of the Parthians while they retreat.  In this monologue, Ventidius warns that it is not wise to go above those in authority and seek your own valor.  Stay humble in battle, stay ambitious and stay loyal, but never be too bold to your Captain.

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King Henry V- Henry V

France. During the siege of the fortified Port of Harleur. Alarums and confusion all around. King Henry V urges his army into another storming encounter. They carry scaling ladders with them. His speech is full of urges and courage-boosting phrases that propel his men into battle.

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Auditioning for Ross:

Benvolio- Romeo and Juliet

In the street after a night of reveling, and during an impromptu duel, Tybalt murders Mercutio.  This causes Romeo to duel Tybalt in revenge and kill him. In this monologue, Benvolio speaks to Prince Escalus, who has been called to the scene. Benvolio has just witnessed the murder of Mercutio and Tybalt, and the flight of Romeo. He is distraught and perhaps even alone since his friends are either dead or have run away. However, he stands up for Romeo’s honor, saying that Romeo did not want to duel initially, but was driven to it by the sorrow felt after Mercutio’s murder. He swears on penalty of death that the events occurred the way he describes them.

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Morton- Henry IV, Part II

Warkworth. Before the castle. The rebels are talking about the war of Shrewsbury (that concluded Henry IV, Part I). Northumberland is very worked up about the last battle and the loss of his son. Now, his grief that once crippled him gives him strength for revenge. In this monologue, Morton attempts to calm him down knowing that his level-head is what helped them so much in the war previously.

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Auditioning for Menteith/ Caithness:

King Henry V- Henry V

France. Before Harfleur, before the gates. King Henry V awaits on the answer from the King of France; will he offer up his lands and titles to England that are rightfully theirs, or will France fight back and attack? In this monologue, King Henry V outlines what the battle will be like, they will leave no trace of the town but ashes. Since they do not surrender, they are asking for the bloody battle that shall ensue.

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Brutus – Julius Caesar

Rome. Brutus’ garden. Late at night, before the assasination of Julius Caesar. Brutus has not slept, and is pondering the decision to act against Caesar. Brutus is a stoic thinker, and emotions do not come to the forefront of his thoughts. He searches for logical reasons to participate in Caesar’s killing. He finally finds “proofs” that allow him to make a decision. 

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Auditioning for Porter:

Mercuito- Romeo and Juliet

Verona. The street in front of the Capulet’s house at night. Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio and a group of maskers are on their way to the Capulet’s ball. Mercutio launches into this bright, fantastical speech to draw Romeo out of his dreamy gloom. Mercutio takes his time with the speech, making a spectacle of his/her words. He mixes child-like dreams, bawdy sexuality, and a darker grotesque element that gradually transform the speech into a nightmare, much like the play itself.

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Henry IV, Part I – Prince Hal

The Boar’s-Head Tavern, Eastcheap. Early in the play, Prince Harry (Hal) spends him time in taverns and bars, making friends with the commoners and drinking his youth away.  He has renounced the court and enjoys his fame in the bar scene. In this monologue, he muses on the good times he has had, and is currently having, drunk in a tavern.

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Auditioning for Siward/ Sergeant:

General – Henry VI, Part I

Before Bordeaux. Talbot meets the General outside the walls of Bordeaux; he demands the French accept Henry VI as their true King, or they shall attack. In this monologue, the General defends his people and country. They are ready to fight, and they already have troops behind the Britiah soldiers, so they cannot even retreat. They must battle.

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Lord Clifford- Henry VI, Part III

A battlefield near York. The forces of Lancaster and York are locked in a deadly struggle. Lord Clifford, who has killed Richard, Duke of York with Queen Margaret, is himself killed in this scene. Here is his death speech. He enters with an arrow through his neck.

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Auditioning for Old Man:

Falstaff – Henry IV, Part I

King Henry’s camp near Shrewsbury Field. A decisive battle is about to take place and the courage of the troops has been rallied. Falstaff stops to consider the value of honor when weighed against the greater fear of death.

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Auditioning for Murderers:

King Lear – Edmund, the Bastard

Britain; the Earl of Glouscester’s castle. Edmond, the bastard son of Gloucester, enters with a letter. This is his first appearance in the play. He is a true villain. The monologue is filled with bawdy and sexual innuendos.

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Cassius – Julius Caesar

Rome. A public street. In the distance, a crowd cheers and implores Julius Caesar to take the emperor’s crown. Cassius continues to woo Brutus into a plot to assassinate Caesar and proclaim him a tyrant. He makes a point to portray Caesar as a man instead of the god that the public thinks he is.

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Auditioning for Seyton:

Adam – As You Like It

Forest of Arden. Adam, Orlando’s faithful servant, finds Orlando in the forest. Adam praises him for all he stands for, in winning the wrestling match and upholding the Rowland family name. Adam also desperately warns Orlando not to enter the house they have just found, announcing that a jealous man who wishes death upon Orlando, awaiting revenge, sits inside. 

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Rose Helsinger is a playwright and author studying Creative Writing at Florida State University. She is currently working toward her undergraduate thesis on Shakespeare and Adultery. Her one-act, Between Mars and Me, is available for purchase from YouthPlays